NSW State Library

So today, I headed down to the New South Wales State Library, which has an amazing collection of everything NSW related, basically! Special collections is in a magnificent Beauty in the Beast style room, with books from top to toe. I have to admit, I was quite distracted while working and decided that my future visits will need to be much more focussed and short, otherwise I will spend the whole day exploring!

My pictures really don’t do it justice, but I was taking very quick snaps so as not to distract the other readers. The reason for my visit was I was intrigued to learn that their was a listing for a collection of 18th-century British music, though no information about what was inside. The State Library just being 3 minutes walk away from SLM meant that I could take a quick trip down to find out more. And what I found was quite a surprise…

I haven’t done much research into the songs held within the collection as yet, but at a glance I immediately recognise that this is a much earlier than what I have seen so far. It contains music by John Eccles (1668-1735), Handel, Purcell and quite a few Scotch tunes that haven’t appeared in any other volume. Unfortunately, the owner David Scott Mitchell (1836-1907) , whose name is now given to a major section of the library has put a tab of paper over the original owner.

D Mitchell

I was told that Mitchell was a vast collector and he could have purchased the volume in Britain and brought it to Australia in the late 19th century. However, Orpheus Caledonius (1733) is also held in the collection and bears the name ‘P Cooke 1747/97’? If the two volumes date from roughly the same period, then they possibly had the same original owner. In any case, it is another story to add into my adventures!

P Cooke 1747 or 1797? D Mitchell

While on my visit, I also discovered that papers related to Lucy Havens – discussed in yesterday’s post – are also held in the State Library. Unfortunately, as these are manuscripts and letters, they are held offsite and I will need to wait 4 days for them to come to me. I am hoping this will be the key to solving the identity of her first husband Thomas Hyndes and what happened to her in the years before her first and second marriages. One can only hope there are some kind of travel diaries or music mentioned in these mysterious papers!


On an unrelated note, on my walk up to the library I noticed a naughty little kitten statue on the side of the wall. Anyone who has met me knows my love of cats – perhaps he was leading me to my exciting discoveries today 🙂



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